Professor David Engerman: ‘Americans in particular view "Cold War culture" as repressive - and don't really have much understanding of soviet life. Yet both societies shared responsibility for the Cold War’
On October 17-19, 2013 the international conference ‘Social and Human Sciences on Both Sides of the “Iron Curtain”’ organized by the HSE Poletayev Institute for Theoretical and Historical Studies in the Humanities is being held in Moscow.
This international conference is intended to put together research findings on the history of social and human sciences in the capitalist West and the socialist East during the second half of the 20th century. The HSE news service talked to two participants about the conference about their expectations and suggestions for reading.
David Engerman, Professor of History at Brandeis University (USA) is delivering a paper ‘A Mecca for Economists and Planners’: Pilgrimages to Nehruvian India at the second plenary session. He told the news service about a new western approach to understanding soviet life during the Cold War.
David Engerman :
— It's fascinating to understand how much our predecessors knew about their own time - we like to think of ourselves as superior, yet earlier social scientists had a keener understanding of their societies than we often think. This is especially true of our views of Soviet scholars. Westerners at the time - and many since - view Soviet scholars as bland parrots of party lines. But for as much outside pressures as they faced, soviet scholars were effective expressing complex ideas using the limited ideological language available to them in publications.
I think it's important for youth today to move past pure blame and discrediting of the Cold War. Americans in particular view "Cold War culture" as repressive - and don't really have much understanding of soviet life. Yet both societies shared responsibility for the Cold War, which emerged not just from the differences between the US and the USSR but also from some of their commonalities.’
Irina Morozova, from Humboldt University of Berlin who will speak in the Cold War historiographies section about ‘Central Asian intertwine of nationality, religion and democracy in the ‘hall of mirrors’ of Western and Soviet historiographies (1950-1980)’ says that the thing that fascinates her most in this area is the ‘comparative history of decolonisation in Asia and the Orient and the impact of global geopolitics on the deconstruction of socialism’. She recommended the following books for anyone interested in the topic of her talk;
P. van de Veer, Imperial Encounters. Religion and Modernity in India and Britain (Princeton and Oxford 2001).
M. Werner, B. Zimmermann, ‘Beyond Comparison: Histoire croisee and the Challenge of Reflexivity’, History and Theory 45 (2006) 30-50
D.F. Eickelman and J. Piscatori, Muslim Politics (Princeton 1996)
This is the first time Irina has taken part in an HSE conference and she hopes to develop other forms of cooperation with colleagues in the field.
Anna Chernyakhovskaya, specially for the HSE news service
Samrat Sil is a recent graduate of the English-taught Master's programme in Applied and Interdisciplinary History ‘Usable Pasts’ at HSE St. Petersburg. David Datmar, a native of Ghana, decided to join the programme to help him prepare for eventual study at the PhD level, which he plans to undertake soon at the University of Oxford. Both gentlemen were recently awarded certificates of recognition for their role as ambassadors contributing to the university’s internationalization agenda.
International Centre for the History and Sociology of World War II and Its Consequences, Higher School of Economics and The Friedrich Ebert Foundation held 'A Memory Revolution’: Soviet History Through the Lens of Personal Documents' in Moscow on 7-8 June, 2017. The conference brought together distinguished historians and sociologists from across the globe. Michael David-Fox, Professor of History, Georgetown University, and Academic Advisor of HSE International Center for the History and Sociology of World War II and Its Consequences shares his reflections and considerations on the main topic and discussions at the conference and his own research
On May 31, Valerie Kivelson, Professor of History at the University of Michigan, will be delivering a seminar entitled ‘Visualizing Empire: Muscovite Images of Race’. Professor Kivelson is an expert in Medieval and early modern Russia, history of cartography, history of witchcraft, religion, and political culture, among other topics. She is the author of 'Desperate Magic: The Moral Economy of Witchcraft in Seventeenth Century Russia' and a guest editor of 'Witchcraft Casebook: Magic in Russia, Poland and Ukraine. 15-21st Centuries'.
A group of 20 undergraduates from the United States visited St. Petersburg, 'the northern Venice', this January, taking part in a programme that blended the history, society and culture of the Russian Empire’s capital. Participants arrived from Mount Holyoke College and Smith College, opting to spend two weeks of their winter holidays here (6 – 22 January) learning about this city. Participants were diverse in their fields of studies, Russian knowledge, and travel experience, some even choosing this trip as their first chance to travel outside the borders of the United States.
On Monday, October 3, two professors of anthropology from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) – Heather Paxson and Stefan Helmreich – delivered a seminar for students of HSE St. Petersburg Master's programme in Applied and Interdisciplinary History. A presentation by Professor Paxson focused on how the microbiopolitics of cheese making in the U.S. presupposed and promoted industrial methods and standards and how in recent decades interest in producing and consuming artisanally made, raw-milk cheese has risen dramatically.
Yanina Karpenkina won the 2016 annual contest for HSE students, which is organized by the International Centre for the History and Sociology of World War II and Its Consequences. Thanks to the contest, she went on a six-week internship as a research assistant with the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.
This April, Microhistory Days took place at HSE. The event coincided with the visit to the School of History of Prof. Sigurður Gylfi Magnússon (Reykjavík Academy in Iceland) and Dr. István Szijártó (Loránd Eötvös University, Budapest), renowned experts in microhistory, founders of the Microhistory Network, and authors of What is Microhistory? Theory and Practice, a comprehensive analytical monograph.
An international school of young historians, ‘Russian – Polish Entangled History: Scientific Reconstruction and Reflection in the Collective Memory’, took place in April at the School of History (HSE Moscow). Undergraduate and master’s students from HSE and the University of Warsaw took place in the event. Alexander Kamensky, Andrey Iserov, Dariusz Klechowski, Director of the Polish Cultural Centre in Moscow, and Leonid Gorizontov, who lead the organization of the Russian-Polish meeting.
On March 11, Seth Bernstein gave a presentation — ‘Burying the Alliance: Interment, Repatriation and the Politics of the Sacred in Occupied Germany’ — at the scholarly seminar of the HSE International Center for the History and Sociology of World War II and Its Consequences where he works as a postdoctoral research fellow.
On 22 January, 2016 Judd Kinzley, Assistant Professor at the Department of History, University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA gave a presentation, ‘Wartime Atrocities and the Historical Legacies of World War II in China’at the academic seminar of the HSE International Center for the History and Sociology of World War II and Its Consequences.